It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what President Donald J. Trump intends to do in fixing this country’s immigration system. During his successful presidential campaign, the New York billionaire backed massive deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents, and bring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to an end for about 800,000 beneficiaries.
Then, Trump expresses sympathy for the Dreamers (who have paid about $2 billion in taxes since the program was established through executive action by President Barack Obama).
In a January interview with ABC News, Trump said they “shouldn’t be very worried.”
“I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody,” Trump said. “We’re going to have a very strong border. We’re going to have a very solid border. Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried.”
Then, earlier this month, Trump yanked out the carpet from underneath the DACA recipients – of which about 223,000 live in California – by declaring an end to the program and asking Congress to find a solution in six months.
But, he argued that DACA recipients have “nothing to worry about.”
Last Wednesday, Democratic leaders announced a major breakthrough after having dinner with the president at the White House. The news that Trump had agreed to provide a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers in return for Democratic support of beefed-up border security signaled a major breakthrough.
“We all agreed on a framework: Pass DACA protections and additional security measures, excluding the wall. We agreed that the president would support enshrining the DACA protections into law,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor the next day.
Then, Trump denied a decision had been reached.
“No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote,” he tweeted.
So, what are we to believe?
Trump the toughest man this side of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on deportation?
Or, Trump the No. 1 supporter of Dreamers?
Arizona Congressman Rubén Gallego isn’t sure.
“No, I don’t think the president actually understands what he’s saying half the time, so I’m afraid if he struck a deal with them that he’ll go back on his word at any time,” Gallego said last week. “I’m always skeptical when dealing with Donald Trump.”
Trump needs to state unequivocably his position on DACA. As he discovered last Thursday morning, Republican immigration hardliners are not happy with Schumer’s version of the talk with Trump.
This country has hemmed and hawed far too long on immigration reform. That can has been kicked down the road so often that one more kick of a rusted container will go up in a poof of dust.
Polls show overwhelming support for Dreamers. This shouldn’t be a political issue. Not when 800,000 people (of which 78 percent are undocumented from México) need straight answers.
It’s time the president realize that actions speak louder than words.